Can You Get a DUI for Laughing Gas?

You know you can get a DUI for driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescriptions like Xanax, Ambien, and OxyContin, but what about laughing gas? Can a root canal (or illegal recreational use of the drug) with laughing gas, otherwise known as “nitrous oxide” or “nitrous” lead to DUI charges if you’re caught driving home after sitting in the dentist’s chair?

To answer the question, we’re going to tell you about J.N., 22, who was sentenced to a year in jail and five years’ probation after killing a friend and injuring two others while driving under the influence of laughing gas in Santa Ana, California in 2010.

The five years of probation was awarded to him by Superior Court Judge Gerald Johnson after he pleaded guilty to the gross negligence and vehicular manslaughter charges that killed one and put at risk the lives of many others.

The Deputy District Attorney recommended that J.N. be severely charged because his actions were very dangerous, not only to other people but to himself. The DA felt as though one year was not long enough for him to be behind bars. J.N. had inhaled nitrous oxide while driving with passengers, and while driving over 80mph in a 45mph zone.

According to reports, as J.N. inhaled the gas, it caused him to drop his head and release his hands from the wheel. J.N. lost control of the car and drove over the median on the highway and crashed into a tree, causing the car to be engulfed in flames. The community was very shaken up by the event, knowing that while many die due to drunk driving incidents, laughing gas is rarely the culprit.


The judge did not agree with the DA’s argument because the defendant was extremely injured in the accident, and confined to a wheelchair with severe brain injuries and burn wounds. The judge believed that J.N. would never have the chance to drive again, and that was punishment enough for his crimes.

A 15-year-old passenger, S.G., was killed immediately in the crash. The collision with the tree caused the engine of the car to be slammed into the passenger seat where S.G. was sitting. The other two passengers had a better outcome from this tragic event. One was thrown out of the vehicle and taken to the emergency room for treatment, and the other was able to climb his way out of the burning car before receiving any fatal injuries.

The penalties for a DUI vehicular manslaughter charge can be very severe. Depending on the situation, a person may be sentenced from one year in jail up to 10 years in prison if the charge included gross negligence. If a person is accused of a DUI vehicular manslaughter charge alone, they could be looking at up to four years in a state prison for their crime.

If you, or someone you know is in need of an experienced DUI attorney, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. immediately for a free case evaluation.

Related: Can Family Be Charged With Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated?

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